Government review of Pastoral Act may impact access for recreational bushwalkers in the Flinders Ranges

What is the issue?

The State Government is seeking input in order to review the Pastoral Act.

Much of the land in the Flinders Ranges north of Hawker is not private freehold land but instead is leased from the State Government to pastoralists to undertake grazing ventures1, and recognises the rights of Aboriginal people.

As the land is leased, people can undertake recreational off-trail bushwalking in these remote locations. They must notify the lessee of their intentions to walk, and the lessee can only deny access in certain scenarios. To clarify, by “off-trail bushwalking” we often mean following old vehicle tracks, or walking in a low impact environment, and can include camping for a few nights.

The Act also provides what are called Public Access Routes (PARs), which are often used by 4WDers for recreational use. They are well established and will likely probably remain, but our concerns are for access to other lands not part of PARs.

How could changes to Pastoral Act impact on recreational bushwalking? What are our concerns?

Currently, people intending to undertake bushwalks must notify the lessee of their intentions to walk, and the lessee can only deny access in certain scenarios. If support vehicles are to be used (or if the activity is recreational 4WDing), consent must be gained from the lessee.

Whilst we acknowledge that the Pastoral Act needs updating to allow for more flexible uses, including tourism and energy production, as well as the current need for cultural sensitivities, or mining activities, we’re concerned that access for recreational bushwalking may become restricted in these lands outside those limited, defined areas.

As tourism ventures are being considered to be included in the Act, this could further restrict access for recreational bushwalkers. We acknowledge that in some circumstances tourism ventures may be predicated on offering an exclusive access to experience the land, but would urge the Government to consider how this could adversely affect access for recreational bushwalking if it was widely implemented.

Who does this impact (in the context of undertaking recreational bushwalking)?

  1. Individuals doing self-planned self-guided bushwalking (in reality this is not individuals, but small groups of say 2-8 people)
  2. Bushwalking clubs, predominately those being Member Walking Clubs of Walking SA (the peak body for all forms of walking in South Australia), particularly those active in doing off-trail bushwalks north of Hawker, for instance Adelaide Bushwalkers, Friends of the Heysen Trail, and ARPA Bushwalkers (collective membership approx. 2,000 people) and other smaller walking clubs.

Examples of such bushwalks undertaken include:

  • Walking on the colloquially known “Beyond the Heysen”, being typically three weeks of walking from the northern trailhead of the 1,200km Heysen Trail at Parachilna Gorge to the northern extent of the Flinders Ranges at Mt Babbage or Mt Hopeless (via Narinna Pound, the Gammons, Arkaroola, and over or skirting the Mawson Plateau.)
  • Week-long trips up to the Mawson Plateau
  • Following the Flinders Ranges north of Wilpena Pound and outside of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
  • Trips around Blinman and Parachilna Gorge that might include Narinna Pound or Patawarta Hill

Why is the State Government reviewing the Pastoral Act?

Whilst the current Act deals with the pastoral industry, access and rights for Aboriginal People and mining, its scope is quite specific.

To futureproof this landscape and those that depend on it, changes are being considered to increase the flexibility for a range of uses, such as tourism and energy production.

This would allow leaseholder businesses to diversify to better manage income and risk and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. This will still need to be balanced with the necessity of maintaining the condition of the land for future generations and recognising the rights of Aboriginal people.

Where is access for bushwalkers covered in the current Pastoral Act?

You can view the current Act at http://bit.ly/2kDvb8y

Refer in particular to pages 30 and 31 (or easier: read this version with the relevant sections highlighted):

  • Part 6—Access to pastoral land
    • Division 3—Public access
      • 48 Right to travel across and camp on pastoral land
        • (2) on foot (not in a vehicle), and camp – must provide notice to lessee
        • (3) by vehicle, and camp, by consent of the lessee
        • (4) not camp near buildings or water points
        • (5) further deals with consent for point (3) (travel by vehicle)

How to provide feedback

Closing date: 5.00pm Friday 13 September 2019
Update 11 September: the Closing Date has been extended and is now 5pm Monday 30 September 2019.

“Based on stakeholder feedback and acknowledging the challenging conditions and competing priorities many pastoralists are facing, the Minister has extended the closing date for submissions to 5pm Monday 30 September 2019.” — PIRSA

 

Feedback is being gathered via the State Government’s yoursay.sa.gov.au website:
https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/decisions/pastoral-rangelands/about

Complete the online survey at: https://forms.service.sa.gov.au/528939

You will be asked to register your name and email address to commence the survey.

You can ask questions, or perhaps send a formal letter from a body, to:
Primary Industries and Regions SA
PIRSA.PastoralActReview@sa.gov.au

What sections of the Feedback Questionnaire are relevant to our bushwalking  interests?

The survey questions are broken down into the following areas:

Important Vision for the future of the pastoral rangelands (4 questions)
Question 1: What do you want South Australia's rangelands to look like for future generations? refer to page 3 of survey questions PDF
Question 3: Do you think the rangelands should be used for activities in addition to pastoral purposes?
Land condition (3 questions)
Lease arrangements (2 questions)
Rights of Aboriginal people (1 question)
Consider Land use (2 questions)
[possibly] Question 12: How should mixed uses of one site be managed as there may be different land impacts? refer to page 7 of survey questions PDF
Land management (4 questions)
Important Public access (3 questions)
Question 17: Do you agree public access to the pastoral rangelands should be preserved? If so, why? refer to page 9 of survey questions PDF
Question 18: How should public access to the pastoral rangelands be managed?
Question 19: Who should be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the provision of public access?
Land access (2 questions)
Governance (2 questions)
Dog fence (1 question)
Somewhat important Assessment and compliance (3 questions)
Question 25: What assessment and compliance should be in place to manage risk? What obligations should be on different parties? refer to page 13 of survey questions PDF
Administration (2 questions)
Important Other (1 question)
We recommend using this to highlight issues for access to recreation bushwalking refer to page 15 of survey questions PDF

  1. Pastoral land in South Australia covers 410,000 square kilometres of the state, comprising 324 leases. The management, condition and use of pastoral lands is provided for in the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act 1989. Link to Act.

Further upgrades for Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit Trail

A further funding boost of $2.9 million allocated to the Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit trail will restore and upgrade this popular and iconic walking trail, making it safer, more sustainable and storm-resistant in the future.

The popular and strenuous walking trail sustained significant damage in the September 2016 storms, with initial funding being used to restore access, make safe and repair the most damaged sections of the trail by the end of 2018.

However, this new injection of funding will expand the scope of the upgrade, restoring the Waterfall Gully trail completely from top to bottom. The additional restoration work will extend the original completion date of the project, with the revised date for all works expected to be by the end of 2019.

The restoration works will include creek bank stabilisation, new boardwalks, stonework and trail re-surfacing.

Whilst these works are in progress detours will be in place for sections of the trail on weekdays for the safety of public users. Unless any unforeseen circumstances arise, the usual trail routes will be available on weekends and public holidays.

It is worth noting that detour routes may be longer and may cover slippery, steep terrain, so extra care and attention will be needed by all using these trails.

To keep up to date with the latest updates check out the Natural Resources Facebook page or for more information head to the National Parks website.

Kangaroo Island Coastline again under threat to walkers

A section of coastline along southern Kangaroo Island is again under threat to effectively being controlled by a private developer for a golf course.

This will restrict public access to and along the coast, including for walkers.

We here at Walking SA support that our coastlines should remain in public hands, and Kangaroo Island is a fantastic spot to explore and walk along the coast.

In February in response to overwhelming community concern the then Government rejected the proposed sale of land.

However, recently the new Government has proposed instead that a 50-metre-wide waterfront coastal reserve would be created to allow ongoing public access to the clifftop – which sounds like a good solution – except that because of the nature of the cliffs and landscape in many places that 50 metre mark will be right on the cliff top edge – effectively closing public access and thoroughfare.

An online petition has been started by concerned walkers.

Our focus on improving advocacy for walking

The voice of the people was heard about the sale of a section of Kangaroo Island coastline.

Here at Walking SA we are focussed on improving our advocacy for walking and on behalf of the walking community of South Australia.

Over recent months we’ve been involved with:

  1. Improving pedestrian crossings and crossing times on North Terrace with new RAH, SAHMRI and research precincts. We’ve been meeting with the Department of Transport Planning and Infrastructure to improve this.
  2. Input focussed on walking into the SA Health Public Health Plan Review
  3. Australian Adventure Activity Standards in consultation with Bushwalking Australia. After much discussion Bushwalking Australia will be finalising details shortly.
  4. Kangaroo Island coastline proposed sale to a private developer – Walking SA along with many other individuals and organisations including Friends of the Heysen Trail lodged a formal objection to this consideration. The voice of the people was heard and the Minister has advised that it will not proceed.
  5. Ongoing monitoring of gazetted changes to land use, such as unmade road reserves with review and lodging objections as appropriate when walking trail use or high-value potential walking trail use is compromised.

Of ongoing significant concern is still the issue of shared paths. This is still causing significant alarm to us and our members and the walking community at large. We will continue to make presentation to state and local government to address ways to improve the situation for all trail users. If you have issues of concern and examples of problems please get in touch with us.

Public Feedback Sought on Establishing Corridors to Protect Forest Trails

Public Feedback Sought on Establishing Corridors to Protect Forest TrailsThe ownership and management of the Bundaleer and Wirrabara Forests may soon change, following the Mid North Forests Future Strategy which commenced after the devastating bushfires of 2013 and 2014.

The State Government is proposing to use the Recreational Greenways Act 2000 to protect the Heysen and Mawson Trail networks for recreational access in perpetuity for use by walkers and/or cyclists. This will create a greenway over sections of the Heysen and Mawson Trails within Wirrabara and Bundaleer Forests that are proposed to be sold to private parties.

One of our member clubs, the Friends of the Heysen Trail, has some concerns with regard to the proposed changes. However, as they were only recently made aware of the proposals they are currently preparing a response. Whilst they support in-principle the use of the Greenways Act to protect the Heysen Trail and other walking trails, they are concerned that it proposes to re-route part of the Heysen Trail. Watch their website for details.

Submit your feedback via yoursay.sa.gov.au/greenways by COB Monday 12 June 2017.

Advocacy for walking footpaths and trails

Walking SA volunteers regularly review what is happening with regard to a variety of plans, particularly by local and state government that could have impacts upon walking. Over recent times these have included the riding on footpaths element of the new bike laws, various local government management plans for trails, the Hackney Road/O-Bahn development, the Darlington interchange and the RAH/SAHMRI North Terrace scenario. Walking SA regularly advocates, both formally and informally, on these types of matters to look after the interest of walkers.

If you have issues of concern or comments that you would like considered in our submissions, please contact the Walking SA office. Of late we have had concerns expressed to us with regard to shared trails in the Adelaide Hills where walkers are disadvantaged. Please let us know of issues in principal or even specific instances of concern.

Chambers Gully Track Closure Due to RockSlide

Chambers Gully Rockslide, Burnside Track trail closure, 13 August 2015

Due to a rock slip on the Chambers Gully Track on 5th August 2015, the single-track walking track has been temporarily closed whilst the City of Burnside clears the debris. Walkers should avoid the track.

The story was reported by The Advertiser, which named the track as the Chambers Gully Track. This is the official name of the track, although some walkers refer to this track section as the Burnside Track, or the Goat Track. The track affected is the single-track walking trail which begins at the gate entrance to Cleland Conservation Park (not to be confused with the gate entry immediately off Waterfall Gully Road). Refer to the map for more detail.

This closure temporarily affects the following walks:

Map of Chambers Gully Rockslide, Burnside Track trail closure, 13 August 2015

Government Response to Mt Lofty Ranges Mountain Biking Destination

Back in December 2014, we made a submission to the Government of South Australia in regards to their proposal to develop the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an international mountain biking destination.

We received a reply that discusses the balance between trails for mountain biking and walking. It states:

Response to letter, from Ian Hunter, Government of South Australia, re International Mountain Biking Destination, Adelaide Hills, Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges - balance of walking and mountain biking trail users

While one of the State Government’s 2014 election commitments is to establish the Mount Lofty Ranges as an international mountain biking destination, there is ample room for the simultaneous promotion of our walking trails.

…preparing a technical report with recommendations… will include recommendations on a range of complementary outdoor recreation…

I note the concerns you have raised regarding the safety of trail users. The safety and enjoyment of all users will be a priority…

Best practice design will always be at the heart of responsible trail development. I am also advised that a combination of sharing paths where possible and setting aside single-use or single direction zones where appropriate will encourage the maximum number of people to use and enjoy our parks and other natural areas.

This is an exciting time for the Adelaide Hills. I acknowledge Walking SA’s input into the planning process and hope this will continue throughout the co-design planning process as we move towards achieving the vision.

Mid North Forests Future Strategy

Mid North Forests Future StrategyFollowing the devastating 2013 and 2014 bushfires which destroyed 85% of the Wirrabara and Bundaleer forests, the Government is obtaining the views of stakeholders and the local community about the potential options.

The forests represent 1% of the state’s forestry resources, with the South East being the powerhouse of our commercial forests. If the forests were replanted, it would take 25 years to mature to harvesting readiness, and be under threat of a similar destruction as occurred. Forests in the Mid North grow at half the rate of those in the South East. The future may lie in adding Wirrabara forest into the adjacent Telowie Conservation Park.

Trees are being hurriedly harvested and shipped (the current load is too high for local sawmills) whilst the burnt trees still have commercial value.

Work is underway to restore walking trails and the Heysen Trail.

Response to Vision of the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an International Mountain Biking Destination

We have made a submission to the Government of South Australia in regards to their proposal developing the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an international mountain biking destination.

WalkingSA logo19 December 2014

The Honourable Ian Hunter, MLC
Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation
GPO Box 1047
ADELAIDE SA 5001

Dear Minister,

Re: Visioning Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an International Mountain Biking Destination: Response to stakeholder consultation meeting October 2014.

In October 2014, Walking SA was invited to attend a stakeholder meeting to discuss “Developing the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges as an International Mountain Biking Destination”.

We appreciate the opportunity that was offered at this meeting to provide feedback about the potential benefits and risks of progressing this concept.

As the peak body for all forms of walking in South Australia, Walking SA is fully supportive of actions that will showcase our State. We believe visioning the Mount Lofty Ranges as an international recreation destination and promoting a broad range of activities has great merit, given the close proximity to our city, the accessibility and natural beauty of the area.

However, we strongly recommend that any proposal to raise the profile of the Mount Lofty Ranges as an international recreation destination must be inclusive of walking.

The Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges already has an outstanding network of quality walking trails and shared use corridors that provide great recreational opportunities for walkers and horse riders, as well as mountain bike riders.

A limited recreational vision for the future of the Mount Lofty Ranges – i.e. primarily as a Mountain Biking Destination – misses the potential for broader development and promotion of the region as an exciting opportunity for local, national and international visitors to explore the region in different ways.

Walking SA proposes three key principles (and associated risks) for consideration in future recreational planning in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

1. Safety and enjoyment of everyone – i.e. local and international walkers, riders and mountain-bike riders who access the Mt Lofty Ranges for recreation:

There is a significant speed differential between different types of users on shared trails, particularly for walkers and downhill mountain bikes. Heavy or fast bicycle use on ostensibly shared trails can discourage walking, particularly for older walkers or those with hearing or sight impediments. Similarly, large crowds of walkers or sightseers on a trail can impede cyclists.

Trails designed for downhill mountain bike riding cannot be regarded as suitable for walkers. Therefore, a well-planned mix of trail types needs to be provided to cater for the diverse needs and abilities within the community.

2. Environmental impact

Degradation of narrow, vulnerable bush walking trails increases when tracks are opened up to multi-purpose use. Mountain bike riding is much more likely than walking to produce ‘gullying’ and water flow along tracks, leading to erosion or ponding. Careful planning, trail design and regular monitoring will be critical to all future development, particularly if the Ranges are promoted primarily as a mountain bike destination.

3. Cost of building and maintaining trails

Walking infrastructure is relativity inexpensive and in many cases already exists. The requirements for mountain bike tracks will be significantly more expensive to construct and maintain. Funding for the development and maintenance of a variety of trails will provide a greater return on investment in terms of both health benefits and tourism.

In conclusion, Walking SA suggests that the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges should be promoted as an INTERNATIONAL WALK / RIDE / BIKE DESTINATION which offers fantastic opportunities for walkers, mountain bikers, off-road cyclists, back road cyclists and horse riders.

The focus of promotion could be the range of opportunities so close to a major city. Maps and descriptors could be made of trails and routes that could be explored in different ways. Casual and more serious adventures could be promoted. Linking of food and wine outlets, and overnight stays, could feature.

A broader and more inclusive focus would ultimately attract larger numbers of international visitors.

Walking SA is supportive of further inclusive development of the Mount Lofty Ranges to encourage a greater variety of recreational activity and enjoyment, boost tourism and promote positive health outcomes.

Please contact Walking SA if we can be of further assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Dannielle McBeath
Executive Officer
Walking SA

Verdun Bridge Feasibility Study Final Report

The Pioneer Women’s Trail was completed in 2007 but remains incomplete near the Hills trailhead until the best location for a pedestrian/cycling bridge to span the Onkaparinga River can be determined. This bridge will then enable the trailhead to be located in Pioneer Park, Hahndorf.

The final report, including maps, images and plans can be viewed at walkingsa.org.au/verdunbridge.

The bridge on Sandow Road Reserve will provide strategic links to the Heysen Trail, the Amy Gillett trail and to the proposed trailhead at Pioneer Park, Hahndorf and will allow the Pioneer Women’s Trail to be completed from Silver Road to Hahndorf.

PLB_SandowURR_Bridgesite preview

The Pioneer Women’s Trail commemorates the pioneer women and girls who, soon after arriving in 1838, walked overnight from Hahndorf to hawk their produce in Adelaide. They continued to make this journey for almost two decades, leaving at midnight to walk 35 kilometres along a rough bush track. At 4.00 am they would reach a small stream in the foothills near Beaumont, wash their sore feet and tidy themselves before walking into Adelaide to hawk their produce. They would then purchase needles and thread, sugar, tea, tobacco for their menfolk and carry two bricks each to build a new church at Hahndorf.

Walking SA received a grant from the Office for Recreation & Sport SA (ORS) in 2004 for the planning and installation of the Pioneer Women’s Trail. The trailhead for the section of the Pioneer Women’s Trail completed in 2007 commences at Verdun.

The Bridge Feasibility Study recommends an optimal location for the bridge on Sandow Road, Verdun and an innovative and cost-effective bridge design.

A further grant from the Office for Recreation and Sport made under the Community Recreational and Sports Facilities Program in 2013 enabled Walking SA to engage an independent consultant, Meechi Road to explore the optimal site for a pedestrian/cycling bridge across the Onkaparinga River and to engage a bridge engineer, Christiane Husmann of Magryn Engineering, to prepare plans for a crossing at the preferred site.

The Bridge Feasibility Study recommends an optimal location for the bridge on Sandow Road, Verdun and an innovative and cost-effective bridge design. It also identifies the remaining challenges that lie ahead before bridge construction can proceed and before the Pioneer Women’s Trail can be completed to Hahndorf.

The challenge will be to attract sufficient funds

This feasibility study concluded that the bridge will be a cost effective addition to the Adelaide Hills Trails Network and will provide a safe crossing of the Onkaparinga River – especially as the peak of river flooding corresponds with the peak of walking activity. A cheaper, “fair weather” crossing such as a ford or stepping stones is also not recommended due to the proximity to the nearby Hills Christian School, Verdun. The bridge on Sandow Road Reserve will provide strategic links to the Heysen Trail, the Amy Gillett trail and to the proposed trailhead at Pioneer Park, Hahndorf and will allow the Pioneer Women’s Trail to be completed from Silver Road to Hahndorf. However several pinch points along Onkaparinga Valley Road between Sandow Road and the existing Silver Road trailhead are of concern and will need to be addressed. An easement from Heysen Road entrance to “The Cedars” through to Sandow Road Reserve – while not essential will eliminate the need to use the two short triangular sections of Redden Road currently used by the Heysen Trail. This possible easement will need to be negotiated by District Council of Mt Barker.

The challenge will be to attract sufficient funds from a future Community Recreation and Sport Facilities Program and other State and Federal Government grants, from Adelaide Hills Council and District Council of Mt Barker and from corporate sponsorship to bring Christiane Husmann’s bridge design to fruition and link the Pioneer Women’s Trail to the Adelaide Hills Trails Network.

The final report, including maps, images and plans can be viewed at walkingsa.org.au/verdunbridge.

John Eaton
Project Manager, Verdun Bridge Feasibility Study
Walking SA

Welcome to our new website

Our new website has been launched.

This website has been possible through a grant from the Office for Recreation and Sport, under the Be Active progam.

You’re just two feet from some of the best places in South Australia.

Response to the “Integrated Transport and Land Use Plan”

In October 2013 the Government of South Australia released its Integrated Transport and Land Use Plan, and called for comment on the plan. Walking SA provided the following comment submission. When submissions closed on January 17, 2014, the government said they had received an overwhelming response, with 1,500 submissions, and 2,500 attendees to public information sessions.

Cate Mettam, Walking SA Chair, said:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important and long-awaited plan.

It is pleasing to note the many bold measures that are part of this plan, adding to the ones that are underway or have been already achieved. It is also clear that for these important investments to prove worthwhile, they need to be backed by a commitment to make South Australia a desirable place to walk. Put simply, a walkable environment is one that is attractive to live, work and play, desirable economically, efficient in its use of resources, and sustainable into the future.

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